Mark Pitman - Sarah Unknown Family Group

Parents   Parents
Mark Pitman Immigrant Ancestor Sarah
b. abt. 1620 b.
d. before 25 Nov 1690 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts d. bef. 28 Jan 1713 Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts
Relationship Events
Marriage by 1660 Mark Pitman to Sarah
Moses Pitman b. abt. 1660 in Marblehead; m. Remember Parker, (b. about 1663 Georgetown, Sagadahoc, Maine, d. bef. 1732 in Marblehead,) three children: Ruth, Moses, and Remember Pitman; d. after 1732.
Sarah Pitman b. abt. 1663 in Marblehead,; m. 5 Mar 1682 in Marblehead James Dennis; eleven children: Mary, Jonas, Amy, Benjamin, Sarah, Thomas, Samuel, Elizabeth, William, Charles, and Hannah Dennis
Benjamin Pitman b. m. Elisabeth Wardell 14 Nov 1700 in Salem, Massachusetts; four children: Elizabeth, Margaret, Benjamin, and James Pitman; d. bef. 1 Jul 1714 in Marblehead
John Pitman m. 14 Jun 1696 in Marblehead Margaret Ward; five children: Margaret, Joshua, Sarah, Hannah, and Benjamin Pitman; d. after 1722

What We Know About This Family


A good possibility exists that this Mark Pitman is the same Mark Pitman who was killed at the Battle of Bloody Brook. I have not been able to find another Mark Pitman in Marblehead, so for now I'm accepting that he is the same although I cannot find an explanation for why his estate was probated so long after his death. If you have evidence either way, please contact me.

An Overview of Their Lives

Mark and his wife Sarah had four children whom we know about because they are mentioned in the probate papers of their parents. Sarah may have been Sarah Shapleigh. Coincidentally, the Pitmans were related to another of our ancestral families with the marriage of their son Moses Pitman to Remember Parker, daughter of Thomas Parker from Parker's Island (now Georgetown), Maine. The facts that we know about this family are gleaned from the document below:

The facts and questions revealed in this document:

  1. The first name of Mark's wife is Sarah.
  2. Proof that Sarah Pitman who married James Dennis (our direct ancestors) was the eldest daughter of the Mark and Sarah Pittman in these probate papers. (Does the specificity of "eldest daughter" mean there were other daughters?)
  3. Other children identified are Moses, who was her eldest son when Sarah's estate was probated in Jan 1713, Benjamin, and John. Moses' father-in-law was our direct ancestor, Thomas Parker.
  4. Ruth, the daughter of Moses, was married to George Barker.
  5. In 1708, Sarah Pitman conveyed to her son Moses the house and land she had enjoyed for 16 years in consideration for the $6 per annum he had paid. This paragraph is important in the discussion about Bloody Brook.
  6. Mark Pittman deposed at age 40 in 1669 and three years later, he is eight years older. Did he not know how old he was? Was his age transcribed incorrectly? Or, were these two different men both named Mark Pitman? Which if either of them is the the father of Sarah Pitman Dennis?
  7. Was the Mark Pitman who was killed at the Battle of Bloody Brook the father of Sarah Pitman who married James Dennis?

The Battle of Bloody Brook

In the autumn of 1675, five Marblehead men were conscripted or volunteered to report to Captain Lathrop, and only one returned to Marblehead. The detail of 84 men was tasked to go to Hadley and thresh out 3000 bushels of wheat that the settlers had abandoned the previous summer when fleeing from the Indian attacks. The wagons were loaded and they had begun their trek back to headquarters when they were attacked by 600 to 700 Indians. Over 60 men were killed including Mark Pitman. I have recorded that her father was the same Mark as the one killed at Bloody Brook in 1675. The estate of Mark Pitman, father of Sarah Pitman Dennis, was probated in 1690, a full 15 years after the death of Marblehead's Mark Pitman at Bloody Brook. Without a good reason for such a long time period, I'm not 100% sure that Sarah's father was not another Mark Pitman. However, I'm deciding in favor of the association on the good chance that they are one and the same. He was over 50 years of age at the time of his death. Massachusetts towns were conscripting men for militia duty at that time, and his age and marital status made his selection unusual. The Indian Wars were just starting, and it's possible he volunteered, not foreseeing the extent of the danger. The next contingent from Marblehead consisted of younger and more "disposable" (less settled) men from the community.

Reasons for uncertainty: Kyle Zelner wrote in his excellent book Rabble in Arms: Massachusetts Towns and Militiamen During King Philip's War that Mark Pitman was married to Mary Shapligh. I have used the New England Marriages Prior to 1700 source that records his marriage to Sarah Shapleigh with a question mark after her name. (Events from this time were often reconstructed long after the fact and sometimes have such conflicts). That Sarah's mother was named Sarah is clear in the probate papers. This same record states that he lived from 1620 to 1690. That 1690 date could have come from the date of his probate administration, which generally was soon after death. Another source says he was born in 1622, Zelner says he was born in 1625, and the depositions would give him birth dates of 1629 and 1624. Inconsistencies like this from that time period are not unusual. A well-researched family headed by Alexander Shapleigh had fled to Massachusetts from Maine, but I could find no Sarah Shapleigh married to a Mark Pitman among them. That doesn't rule out her name as being Shapleigh, but the question mark demands authentication. In 1708, Moses Pitman, the oldest son of Mark, was compensed for 16 years of annual payments to his widowed mother. These payments would have started in about 1692 if we subtract 16 from 1708. Did he start this annual support soon after his father's death? If so, his father died close to the 1690 reported in the marriage record. Is it possible his wife, Sarah, was supported by Massachusetts in between 1675 and 1692?

Reason for identifying him as the same Mark Pitman: I can find no evidence of another Mark Pitman in this period of Marblehead, which was very early. The Thomas Pitman who resided there is thought by many to have been his brother. Articles in the Documents section cover the Battle of Bloody Brook.

Proof of Relationship

Proof of relationship of Sarah Pitman Dennis lies in the probate of her father's will, which identifies both her and her husband by name, and her by her relationship as daughter to Mark.

What Else We Need to Learn

The goal of this project is to trace every line of ancestry to the arrival of its first immigrant to America. The basic information of each couple is considered complete when we know the dates of birth, marriage, and death for both spouses. their parents' names (or whether they were the immigrant), and the child or children in our ancestry line.

The research on this family is incomplete. It will be complete if and when we discover her mother's maiden name. The certainty of her father's death also needs to be resolved. Many of the birth and death dates are estimates due to lack of actual records. Some of the actual dates may one day be discovered.


Questions, Comments, or New Information -Email